COLOMBO: Newly-elected Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday appointed his elder brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the prime minister of the island nation. Mahinda Rajapaksa will be sworn in on Thursday.
The move came hours after PM Ranil Wickremesinghe resigned saying he was respecting the people’s mandate and stepping down although his United National Party enjoyed a majority in Parliament.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former defence secretary, had defeated Sri Lanka Deputy Prime Minister Sajith Premadasa in the presidential poll polling 52.25 per cent of the votes.
With the Rajapaksa brothers, who are considered to be close to China, assuming power in the island nation, there seems to be a sense of worry in New Delhi.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday was in Colombo and met the newly-elected president hours after he assumed office.
Sri Lanka, which enjoys a strategic position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), cosying up to China has been a cause for concern for India.
Earlier in July, Sri Lanka was forced to lease the Hambantota port to China after it failed to repay a debt. India has also raised concerns over the docking of Chinese warships at Sri Lankan ports.
Earlier in the day, the senior Rajapaksa had demanded the prime minister’s resignation and said that governance would improve if the president and the Cabinet are from the same party.
“I think it is better if we have general elections. Many Cabinet members have already stepped down. I think it is more effective to have a government where the President and Cabinet are from the same party,” Sri Lankan media quoted him as saying.